State authorities are investigating an oil sheen four miles long by two miles wide near Platform Holly off the coast of Goleta.
The sheen was first spotted late Friday, and crews responded to the area at daybreak Saturday.
The California State Lands Commission, the Department of Fish and Wildlife Office of Spill Prevention and Response and the U.S. Coast Guard believe the oil is from a natural seepage.
Teams have taken samples from the sheen and the well for analysis and put a rush on the order; results are expected within the week.
“There are well known, active natural seeps under and around Platform Holly, which typically increase due to significant weather events like the one we are experiencing this week,” a State Lands Commission spokesperson told the News-Press. “Nonetheless, responders are taking every precaution and investigating the incident thoroughly.
“An investigation on and around Platform Holly this past weekend discovered no unusual conditions or a release of oil from the Platform or the associated well plug and abandonment operations.”
Platform Holly, an orphaned well, has been out of operation since the Refugio Oil Spill in 2015 but is monitored 24/7. It is owned by the State Lands Commission after former owner Venoco filed for bankruptcy in 2017.
The State Lands Commission and the city of Goleta held a virtual town hall, where they announced capping has resumed at Platform Holly. No well work has occurred since last Tuesday, the State Lands Commission sent in an email.
“The sheen is rotating in a circular motion and most likely will dissipate quickly due to the recent storm,” it said.
State Sen. Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, is aware of the sheen.
“Over the weekend, constituents informed me about a petroleum sheen spotted off the coast of Santa Barbara. I have and continue to be in contact with the California State Lands Commission and the Office of Spill Prevention and Response,” she told the News-Press in a statement. “The agencies are actively investigating the matter to understand what caused the sheen and how to move forward.”